Information Notice No. 89-70: Possible Indications of Misrepresented Vendor Products
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
OFFICE OF NUCLEAR REACTOR REGULATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555
October 11, 1989
Information Notice No. 89-70: POSSIBLE INDICATIONS OF MISREPRESENTED
All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power
This information notice is intended to alert addressees to possible
indications of misrepresented vendor products and to provide information
related to detection of such products. It is expected that recipients will
review the information for applicability to their facilities and consider
actions, as appropriate, to avoid similar problems. Suggestions contained in
this information notice do not constitute NRC requirements; therefore, no
specific action or written response is required.
Description of Circumstances:
The NRC is concerned about what appears to be an increased number of instances
of misrepresented vendor products being supplied to the nuclear industry.
Equipment procured as new is assumed to meet all procurement documentation
requirements, applicable plant design requirements, and original
manufacturer's specifications. However, on many occasions such equipment has
not conformed to these requirements and specifications. The NRC has published
numerous bulletins and information notices regarding specific instances of
misrepresented products in the last two years. These are listed for reference
in Attachment 1.
Detecting misrepresented products is difficult because most quality assurance
programs are not designed for detecting counterfeit or fraudulent practices.
The criteria used to confirm the quality of products during receipt inspection
and testing generally have assumed vendor integrity and are not focused on
identifying an intent to deceive. This information notice summarizes possible
indications of counterfeit or fraudulent material that have been discovered by
licensees during inspection and testing and by the NRC staff during
inspections, along with information provided by concerned vendors. The NRC
staff believes this information will be helpful to licensees in detecting
misrepresented vendor products.
Attachment 2 lists some common characteristics of misrepresented products.
October 11, 1989
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General indications may be found early in the procurement process, beginning
with the price quote and scheduled delivery time requirements. Some things
that have been found to be present when misrepresented products were
identified and which can be found during the quoting process are:
(1) the name of the vendor - several instances of apparent counterfeit and
fraud involved vendors who were not authorized distributors for the
products they supplied,
(2) the price - quoting of prices by the vendor that are significantly lower
than those of the competition,
(3) delivery schedule - a shorter delivery time than that of the competition,
(4) the source of the item - drop shipment of items has been noted in several
cases of misrepresentation where the quoted supplier subcontracted the
order to another company and then had the subcontractor ship the product
directly to the purchaser. The quoted supplier never saw or verified the
quality of the product which, in some cases, has been substandard.
The receipt inspection and review process is a key element and important step
in detecting misrepresented products. Some easy items to check that are often
overlooked are the names and indications of routing on the shipping container
and the overall appearance of the products. Some distributors have been bold
enough to ship supposedly new equipment with one vendor's name on it in a
container marked with another vendor's name. Another important check is to
note whether the items in each shipment are uniform and similar in appearance.
Some deviations may occur even in authentic items; however, differences can
signal a problem and indicate the need for additional review. Some distri-
butors or suppliers mix misrepresented vendor products with authentic vendor
components. This type of misrepresentation has required close inspection to
detect the differences.
One of the most common indications of misrepresented components, which can be
discovered during receipt inspection, is evidence that the component is not
new but has been used and refurbished. There have been many recent instances
of licensees buying what they thought were new components only to discover
that they actually were given refurbished components that in some cases did
not meet their procurement requirements. Evidence of prior usage includes
scratches that indicate that the component has been taken apart, new paint
that shows evidence of another color underneath or attempted exterior repair,
and, for metallic components, pitting or corrosion.
Evidence of repair, especially when parts from another manufacturer are used,
is also an indication that the component has been used. Knowledge of compo-
nents, even of simple things such as color or distinctive markings, has led to
the discovery of refurbished items. Recent experience with misrepresented
circuit breakers, for example, has shown that close-checking of tags and
labels can identify misrepresented equipment.
October 11, 1989
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In an attempt to market refurbished circuit breakers as new, some vendors have
been making counterfeit tags and labels from copies of authentic ones and
attaching them to the breakers. Such a practice can be detected when the
equipment is examined to see, for example, if the labels are in the wrong
location or appear different, or if the tags were attached with screws rather
than rivets. Another related indication to be aware of is the use by some
vendors of counterfeit Underwriters Laboratory (UL) labels on electrical
There is no substitute for doing appropriate measuring and testing during
receipt inspection. An accurate check of dimensions is often essential in
determining if a part is acceptable, regardless of whether or not it is
misrepresented. Testing to determine the material composition of a product
can also be important, as was discovered during a recent instance of
It is recognized that testing is not always practical. Thorough programmatic
and implementation audits of the vendors quality assurance programs are, in
many cases, necessary to establish and confirm the basis for accepting the
Licensees may wish to also consider ongoing industry efforts in this area in
taking actions to avoid problems related to misrepresented vendor products.
This information notice requires no specific action or written response. If
you have any questions about the information in this notice, please contact
one of the technical contacts below or the appropriate NRR project manager.
Charles E. Rossi, Director
Division of Operational Events Assessment
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation
Technical Contacts: H. M. Wescott, NRR
S. L. Magruder, NRR
1. List of Recently Issued NRC Bulletins
and Information Notices Regarding
2. Common Characteristics of Misrepresented
3. List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices
October 11, 1989
Page 1 of 1
LIST OF RECENTLY ISSUED NRC BULLETINS AND INFORMATION NOTICES
REGARDING MISREPRESENTED MATERIAL
1. NRC Compliance Bulletin No. 87-02 and Supplements 1 and 2: "Fastener
Testing to Determine Conformance With Applicable Material
2. NRC Bulletin No. 88-05 and Supplements 1 and 2: "Nonconforming Materials
Supplied by Piping Supplies, Inc. at Folsom, New Jersey and West Jersey
Manufacturing Company at Williamstown, New Jersey."
3. NRC Bulletin No. 88-10 and Supplement 1: "Nonconforming Molded-Case
4. Information Notice No. 88-19: "Questionable Certification of Class
5. Information Notice No. 88-35: "Inadequate Licensee Performed Vendor
6. Information Notice No. 88-46 and Supplements 1, 2 and 3: "Licensee
Report of Defective Refurbished Circuit Breakers."
7. Information Notice No. 88-48 and Supplements 1 and 2: "Licensee
Report of Defective Refurbished Valves."
8. Information Notice No. 88-97 and Supplement 1: "Potentially
Substandard Valve Replacement Parts."
9. Information Notice No. 89-18: "Criminal Prosecution of Wrongdoing
Committed by Suppliers of Nuclear Products or Services."
10. Information Notice No. 89-22: "Questionable Certification of
11. Information Notice No. 89-39: "List of Parties Excluded From Federal
Procurement or Nonprocurement Programs."
12. Information Notice No. 89-45 and Supplement 1: "Metalclad, Low-
Voltage Power Circuit Breakers Refurbished With Substandard Parts."
13. Information Notice No. 89-56: "Questionable Certification of
Material Supplied to the Defense Department by Nuclear Suppliers."
14. Information Notice No. 89-59: "Suppliers of Potentially
October 11, 1989
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COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF MISREPRESENTED VENDOR PRODUCTS
- nonfactory-authorized distributor
- price significantly less than that of competition
- delivery in significantly shorter time than that of competition
- differences in appearance of items in the same shipment
- unusual box and packing of component
- wear marks or scratches on painted surfaces
- pitting or corrosion of metallic components
- exterior evidence of attempted repairs
- missing name plate or new name plate on old component
- unusual location or method of attachment of identification (ID) tag
- missing part number or irregular stamping on ID tag
- improper dimensions
- ground-off casting marks with other markings stamped in the area
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